Position: President and CEO
Company: Woman’s Hospital
Age: Old enough?
Family: Husband of 20 years (Rich)
and two daughters (Emily and Sarah)
Hometown: Hagerstown, Indiana
Education: MD, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; BA, Oberlin College
In the news:
Dr. Barbara Griffith began her tenure as the sixth CEO of Woman’s Hospital on Oct. 21. Griffith brings to her new position some 20 years of clinical practice experience, along with more than 15 years in healthcare leadership roles, including, most recently, serving as former chief medical officer of Duke Regional Hospital.
What was your very first job, how old were you and what was your biggest takeaway from the experience?
My first job was in research for a large biotech company in California. I enjoyed the work, but quickly learned that I needed to feel the impact of the work I do and how it relates to others. I didn’t find that in the lab. That’s what led to me to apply to medical school.
What time do you typically get up on a workday, and what’s your ideal morning routine to get it off to a great start?
Around 5 a.m. It isn’t always easy, but exercising first thing is one of the most satisfying ways to start a day. If that doesn’t work with my schedule, I’m grateful for just a few minutes with a cup of coffee to contemplate the day before the sun comes up.
As the new CEO of Woman’s Hospital, what are your top priorities for your first year on the job?
Woman’s is a unique hospital with a long history of serving this community. I need to learn the place and the wonderful people who make it what it is. After that, it is all about figuring out what I can do to contribute to its future success. Learning the needs of the community, the region and the state is also a critical part of shaping Woman’s future in order to continue its long tradition of service. That’s a major focus for me this year as well.
Before being selected to lead Woman’s Hospital, you served as chief medical officer and chief of business operations for Duke Regional Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. In what ways do you hope to use this experience for your role at Woman’s, and what is different about Baton Rouge as a health care market?
My previous roles have given me a deep understanding of health care, from the bedside to the executive suite. Thus far, I’m not finding significant differences between Baton Rouge and Raleigh-Durham. I came from a college town in the South that is frequently affected by severe weather…so it’s been easy for Baton Rouge to start to feel like home. Ultimately, health care is about putting the patients and their families first, and you can do that well no matter where you are.
How has technology disrupted the health care industry over the past decade, and what are some ways Woman’s Hospital is evolving to adapt and take advantage of new opportunities?
I am very excited about advancements in technology and the investment Woman’s has made in state-of-the-art tools that will allow us to improve our understanding of how we are delivering care. It is our goal to continuously learn how we can do even better for our patients. Another priority is enhancing our systems to further support our physicians in their work.
What’s your strategy for attracting and retaining top talent at your company?
Retaining top talent is about valuing people, understanding their desire to grow and supporting individual development. Woman’s is well known for being a fantastic place to work, and we will continue to work hard to maintain Woman’s as a best place to work.
What’s a leadership skill you’ve learned the hard way?
As a physician, I was trained to solve problems quickly and decisively. Emergency physicians, in particular, move quickly and efficiently. Leadership requires thoughtfulness and patience, two skills that I developed over time as a result of successes and failures in the past. It also requires flexibility and a willingness to step behind the team and support from the back, as opposed to always leading the charge.
What’s something about your job or company that might surprise people?
I can let you know when I find it! After just a few weeks, Woman’s really is what it appears to be: A shining example of excellent care quality and commitment to the patients and families who come to us for care.
What are some of your hobbies or favorite things to do in your free time?
Since life can be very busy, I really enjoy having quiet time to cook, read or take my dogs for a long walk. One of my favorite vacation spots is the western mountains of North Carolina.
What are your best productivity hacks?
When I feel overwhelmed, I get organized. I make lists and prioritize how I will get it all done and in what order. There’s something cleansing about writing it down and having “a plan” that frees me up to think about more important issues.
What’s the greatest personal or professional obstacle you’ve had to overcome, and how did you do it?
I am more of an introvert than an extrovert. It took purposeful work to learn how to find the moments where I needed to speak up and make sure that I did it. Eventually, it became more natural and didn’t hold me back. Others want to hear what leaders have to say, and we all have to find the balance between outspokenness and thoughtfulness that works for us individually.
Can you name someone who has had a great impact on you as a leader, or someone who has been a mentor to you in your life or career? How have they changed your outlook?
I was plucked out of a sea of physician leaders by an experienced CEO who saw potential in me. He believed that I could make a significant contribution as a business leader and not just a clinical leader. His belief in me was the start of me believing in myself.
It’s a privilege to mentor others and one of the most rewarding parts of my job. I resist the urge to encourage others to be just like me. Rather, I push them to achieve the best version of themselves.